Library saves historical collection from water damage
Water damaged historical books and manuscripts Wednesday in the special collections room on the second floor of Carrier Library.

The staff at Carrier Library rushed to save precious documents Wednesday morning after there was a water leak in the special collections room.

 

By Wednesday afternoon, Ralph Alberico, dean of the libraries, said they were able to preserve or salvage all the documents that were damaged. Library managers are still working to determine the official cause of the leak, according to Jeff Campbell, a library specialist.

 

Around 9 a.m., librarians discovered a major leak in the ceiling of the special collections room, which threatened to damage historical documents, archived records and other special collections, according to Alberico.

 

"We immediately implemented our disaster plan," Alberico said. "It goes into great detail about how to respond to these types of disasters."

 

Alberico said the library staff quickly removed all the materials from the special collections room and laid out plastic tarps to prevent further water damage of the area.

 

Sheila Newman, a library specialist, said the staff is currently using a different room as a staging area to keep the books and manuscripts until the clean up is completed.

 

The documents are kept in special acid-free, or phase, boxes, on shelves in the room, which helped to protect some of the documents from receiving direct water damage.

 

Those documents that did get wet were immediately taken to an industrial freezer in the old Rockingham Memorial Hospital, now North Campus.

 

"The way to treat water damaged archived materials is to immediately freeze them to prevent mold from happening," Alberico said.

 

The frozen documents can then be safely unfrozen in a controlled environment.

News Editor John Sutter contributed to this report.

Contact Beth Cole at cole2ed@dukes.jmu.edu.